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Cape Town - Twenty child rape survivors who fell prey to Khayelitsha’s serial rapist Soyiso Nofemele have been “adopted” by police officers who will act as “big brothers” to the children over a period of time.
Police officers based at stations in Khayelitsha have each “adopted” five children. Officers will each support a child with school uniforms, supplies and groceries, among other things.
On Wednesday, they met the children and their parents for the first time at the Thusong Centre in Khayelitsha.
The occasion, dubbed “Abantwana Bethu – Caring for our Own”, was also part of SAPS’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.
SAPS, with the help of various non-profit organisations that work with abused children and Rape Crisis centres – such as Simelela, Patch, Mosaic, Free Gender and the Social Justice Coalition, among others – treated the children and their parents to Christmas gifts and care hampers filled with groceries and toiletries.
Nofemele, 27, was convicted last year in the Western Cape High Court. He pleaded guilty to 12 counts of rape, 12 counts of abduction and one of murder.
His victims were between the ages of two and eight.
Inspector Paul Moss, a member of the provincial task team that brought Nofemele’s reign of terror to an abrupt end, described the case as the “biggest single perpetrator case in the country”.
In a profile the task team compiled of Nofemele, they established that he was well-known in the community. He also blended in quite well and didn’t do anything to arouse suspicion.
Moss said all Nofemele’s victims had to spend at least a week in the hospital, undergoing reconstructive surgery to their private parts.
He said the one thing that stood out was that Nofemele liked the sight of blood. Moss explained that Nofemele would ask each victim “Are you bleeding?” while raping them.
Moss said they were looking at other unsolved cases against children which they suspected might be linked to Nofemele.
Member of Men for Change forum and police officer Nkosiphendule Nkowili, of Lingelethu-West Police station, said the children were randomly selected and placed within the organisation.
Men for Change is an SAPS initiative that aims to promote a community of proud men playing a positive role in their personal lives and communities.
“We will be providing a support system for both the child and parents. The family will be able to come to us for help,” Nkowili said.
A mother of one of the rape survivors, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her child, said she was “excited” about the programme.
“We need all the help we can get,” said the 33-year-old unemployed mother.
Her daughter, now 10, was raped while walking home from preschool early last year. She said her daughter first told her teacher about the ordeal.
“The teacher took her to a social worker. She was taken to the hospital immediately… it was a nightmare. She is fine now, but she is a child… I don’t know what she is thinking.”
Captain Anita van der Vyver said at the event on Wednesday: “These children lost a lot in their short lives. What happened to them was horrific and indescribable. Today, they can forget, play and enjoy the Christmas spirit.”